My request was well-intentioned, though not well-received. The kids responded in stereo, using their whiny, complaining tone.
"Oh, Dad! Do we have to?"
Geez, you'd think I'd just forbidden them from texting for an hour.
Actually, I was enlisting them for the Fox Valley Park District's second annual Spring Spruce-up, to be held from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, April 17. The park district is staging cleanup efforts at eight different park sites Districtwide and seeking volunteers for what will be a fun and productive morning outdoors in one of our beautiful parks.
I also used it an opportunity to enlighten the young ones, explaining to them that volunteering is a great way to say thanks and give back to the communities that give us so much.
In other words, volunteering makes you feel good and it makes those around you feel proud to be associated with you.
On Saturday, each volunteer taking part in Spring Spruce-up will be placed at the park site closest to their home and be joined by park district staff in giving their site a makeover involving cleanup, raking, hauling brush and various other tasks to make our neighborhood and community parks shine.
That may sound like work to some, but that depends upon one's perspective. Last year, my cleanup crew at Waubonsie Lake had the equivalent of a party in the park afterward as we celebrated the park's sparkling cleanliness.
"The idea behind Spring Spruce-up is to bring people together in their neighborhoods and communities to take care of something they all cherish and share - their local park," said Park Superintendent Joe Hernandez, who is spearheading the effort districtwide.
"Parks that are clean and well-maintained are a positive reflection on the residents who live around them so we're encouraging people to take ownership and treat their parks with that sense of pride."
There's also a certain satisfaction that comes from the noble volunteer efforts such as Spring Spruce-up, and those feelings can linger for many years. It's gratifying to see a park where you assisted in the upkeep be filled with happy residents, knowing your contributions helped make that park the community gem that it is.
The eight park sites selected were spaced geographically throughout the District so no volunteer will have to travel far to help make a difference. The sites are:
• Austin Park, Mill Street and Route 25, Montgomery
• Blackberry Farm, Barnes and Galena, Aurora
• Eola Community Center grounds, 555 S. Eola Road, Aurora
• Indian Trail Mini Park and Prairie Path, Indian Trail and High Street, Aurora
• Lebanon Park/Gilman Trail (Parker and Douglas, Aurora)
• North Aurora Island Park, State Street bridge, North Aurora
• O'Donnell Park/Prairie Path, 1640 Reckinger Road, Aurora
• Waubonsie Lake, Montgomery Road and Kautz, Aurora
Interested volunteers can contact Debbie Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org or (630) 966-4555 to register for Spring Spruce-up.
It's a small commitment - three hours or less on a Saturday morning - but it will make a big difference for all involved. Especially you.
Jeff Long is the public relations manager for the Fox Valley Park District.